Saturday night’s prime time game in Austin ended up being a defensive battle between two squads that don’t exactly fit the conventional Big 12 model.
The game was close early, a 7-3 game with Texas leading in the first quarter. Iowa State’s offense struggled to get points against the Longhorns defense, however, and Texas was able to amass a 24-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A late game fumble by the Longhorns made this game more interesting than it otherwise would have been, but the Cyclones couldn’t capitalize on that mistake, giving Texas the 24-10 victory. Here are some takeaways from that game.
DID BROCK PURDY HAVE HIS “FRESHMAN GAME”?
This was by far quarterback Brock Purdy’s worst performance of the season. Purdy ended the game 10-for-23 passing with one interception and no touchdowns. The true freshman was under duress most of the evening, and he was unable to make any meaningful yards from scrambles.
MISSING MONTGOMERY WAS A BIG DEAL
The recipe for success for Texas was always going to involve getting a big lead before halftime so that the Cyclones would have to play from behind. David Montgomery had some good runs in this game, but being down 17-3 at half made it necessary for Iowa State to try and make some big plays in the third quarter.
THIS WAS A BAD DAY FOR THE CYCLONES’ O-LINE
Iowa State gave up six sacks and five quarterback hurries on the day, which is not a statistic that speaks to a strong day for the offensive line. The Cyclones also didn’t have much success on the ground, as they averaged a mere 2.1 yards per carry in this game. This was always going to be a contest that was at least partially won or lost in the trenches, and the big uglies for Matt Campbell’s squad were unable to get consistent push in the loss.
IOWA STATE DIDN’T HAVE A GOOD NIGHT TACKLING
The Cyclones had a mostly good game defensively, but they had their share of struggles tackling. Iowa State defenders were in good position most of the night, but had issues bringing down the Longhorns on multiple occasions. That was particularly in the defensive backfield, where extra yards after the catch allowed Texas to pick up first downs and at least one score. Even some of the better tacklers on this team had their share of lapses:
Sam Ehlinger takes it in to put the Horns on the board first.
Texas leads Iowa State 7-0 pic.twitter.com/CVwy8Gc3Yg
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 18, 2018
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR IOWA STATE
Even though this was one of Iowa State’s worst losses this season, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about what Matt Campbell continues to build. Some the Cyclones best players are younger players and will be back in 2019. If Iowa State wins out, they’ll finish with more conference victories than they’ve ever had in the Big 12, and will likely be seen as a contender next year. After the big leap this team took in 2017, there were questions about whether the Cyclones could repeat that kind of performance. Iowa State was close to going to Arlington, and that fact alone should tell that they’ll continue to be a force in the Big 12.
THE LONGHORNS MIGHT BE THE MOST PHYSICAL TEAM IN THE BIG 12
Against an Iowa State team known for their physicality, Texas looked like the more imposing team in Austin on Saturday. Texas has looked like the strongest team in the Big 12, and they’ve shown that they can stand toe-to-toe with the toughest squads in the league. Tom Herman came to Texas promising to put a physical football team on the field, and his guys have delivered on that promise throughout 2018.
TEXAS HAD THEIR BEST DEFENSIVE GAME IN 2018
Texas gave up the fewest points it had all season against the Cyclones, allowing Iowa State to score only ten points all night. If not for a late game fumble, the Longhorns might have held Iowa State to their lowest point total of the season. Defensive coordinator played a base 4-2-5 personnel most of the night, and consistently brought five and six man pressures.
THE TEXAS SECONDARY REALLY STEPPED UP
The defensive backs for the Longhorns certainly stepped up in Austin, holding up well in man-to-man coverage against the skilled Cyclone receivers. The secondary’s performance was their best in a while, and arguably their best all season in a game where points were more at a premium. At one point, that coverage helped Texas get pressure on true freshman Brock Purdy, leading him to throw an interception that set the Longhorns up at the Iowa State 36 yard line:
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 18, 2018
TEXAS FINALLY HAS A 1,000 YARD RECEIVER
With his performance in Austin, Longhorns wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, having racked up 1,033 yards. He’s the first Texas player to achieve that mark since 2014. Humphrey’s height and ability to fight for extra yards are a big reason why the junior is a top receiving option on this team:
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 18, 2018
THE LONGHORNS ARE ONE WIN AWAY FROM A TURNAROUND
Kansas beating Texas in football quickly became a meme and marked the pinnacle of the Longhorns’ years-long struggles on the football field. After getting a decisive victory against Iowa State in Austin, Texas now has a chance to play in the Big 12 championship for the first time since 2009. Two years after a loss in Lawrence got the their then-head coach fired, the Longhorns return to the home of the Jayhawks with a chance to prove definitively that this program has turned things around.